Once an archive has been cataloged, the finding aid is released online (and/or in paper) and is an organized guide to helping you find what information you are searching for. The work behind the scenes is lost: questioning the original order (or disorder!) of documents, the process of organization, and identifying the unidentifiable or unique objects.
To some extent I feel the same way about blogs. I enjoy reading other blogs about archives because they shed light on the same archival problems I might be having and at the same time they highlight specific points about their archive that may be lost later on. Archival blogs give that extra amount of information, sometimes unusual, or mundane, but always curious. Archival finding aids are supposed to be unbiased so that they do not deter from the research process. But having a blog lets the archivist test out their detective skills and share any other information found that illuminates the archive.
So I thought I might share some related information about Edgar Tafel and Frank Lloyd Wright that I stumbled upon on the Internet, and share this blog about them. I also want to make sure that the unique information found by other historians and archivists is not lost!
When I was working on Tafel’s biography, I wondered why I couldn’t find information on his first wife, Lucille Allman Blair. After searching the Internet, I found the blog “Looking for Franklin Lincoln Wright,” which documents the story of Edgar Tafel, Lucille Allman Blair, and Frank Lloyd Wright. The blog unfolds the story of how Lucille Allman Blair played a role in getting Frank Lloyd Wright to speak at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas in 1952, and at the same time reveals some details about Tafel’s life around that time.
The cataloging of Tafel’s architectural projects is almost complete. The projects range from 1953-1991 and are comprised of about 200 rolls of drawings. Before I delve into more theoretical posts about archiving, I would like to share more photos and information about Tafel’s architectural projects in New York that can still be seen today.
Pictured above is an elevation from 1963 of the lecture hall center at the State University of New York at Geneseo. The lecture hall center is now named Newton Lecture Hall. Tafel designed campus plans and several other buildings including the fine arts building (Brodie Hall), the administration building, the student union building, and several dormitories in a team with other architects including Rolf Myller and Richard Snibbe between 1963 and 1974. The plans for the University are among one of the projects that are very well-documented in the archive. As an architectural archivist, I have noticed that government projects and universities are the types of projects that have the most number of drawings saved by an architectural office. This is probably because of the large scope of the project and the large number of clients and stakeholders invested in the project! Nevertheless, both well-documented projects and smaller-scale projects are fascinating to look at, both from an archival and a scholarly point of view.